From gloom to boom, San Diego’s East Village is right smack dab in the midst of a sensational renaissance! Boosted by the 2004 arrival of Petco Park, this former distressed community, previously known for its homeless population, deteriorating neighborhoods and elevated crime rate, has steadily revitalized. In more recent years, East Village has become one of San Diego’s fastest growing communities, and a choice destination for living, dining, and experiencing a bonafide cultural resurgence. Here are 5 excellent reasons why this renaissance village is well worth a visit …
1. San Diego Central Library. This brand-spanking new beauty gracing the infamous San Diego skyline has been 30 years in the making. The library, a fiber optic architectural marvel, was brilliantly designed for bandwidth transmission and NextGen services. Visitors can access Google Indoor Maps from personal devices for a GPS layout of the building. That comes in mighty handy considering the library spans 9 floors and nearly 500,000 square feet! The new San Diego Central Library is, well, absolutely gorgeous … and one for the books.
2. Petco Park. Home of Padres baseball, this popular attraction is often considered the impetus for East Village’s revival. I’ve enjoyed America’s favorite sport at numerous ballparks throughout the country, but Petco Park is hands down my favorite major league baseball venue. Yeah, perhaps I’m a bit biased, but regardless, this setting truly is a stellar place to “have a ball”. Football season is but a few weeks from wrapping up, and the 2015 MLB season is just around the corner. The Padres are hosting the World Champion San Francisco Giants at their home opener on April 9th, and news just broke that Petco Park will be the site of the 2016 Allstar Game. More good news for East Village and San Diego in general!
3. Bottega Americano. Just get in here – soon! The restaurant’s rustic-chic design is fantastically European with an open floor plan, sleek marble countertops, spectacular floor to ceiling columns resembling stacked firewood, and stunning chandelier lighting. The menus are equally spectacular, and Executive Chef David Warner is rightfully making a name for himself. On a recent dinner visit, I savored a cioppino that was brimming with sublime flavors of fresh seafood tossed in an exquisitely seasoned tomato-based sauce that was … slightly caramelized … Ohh Maaah God! Downtown business patrons who haven’t the time to sit down for lunch can peruse the marketplace at Bottega Americano, which features gourmet food items, and a long deli counter filled with fresh panini sandwiches, pastas, salads and more. The front door, which is always invitingly open, sees a steady stream of people dropping in for a caffeine boost at the full-service coffee counter. Bottega Americano is open daily for breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner, and weekends for brunch. Artichoke Benedict with Herb Polenta and Basil Hollandaise … Blood-Orange Mimosas … Whaaaat? Just get in my belly!
4. Común Kitchen & Tavern. Where in heaven’s name can a girl stop in for a gourmet lunch compliments of the San Diego Eater Awards 2014 Chef of the Year, and spend just $7.00 on her meal? Right here, thank you! (Unless it’s Tostada Tuesday when the price drops to $3.00.) Now it just so happens that I’ve had a long-standing love affair with crispy tostadas overflowing with fresh yellowtail cooked ceviche-style in acidic citrus juices, then tossed with cilantro, jalapeño, tomatoes, avocados and such. I simply cannot resist such a temptation. Until now. When my eyes scanned past that luring Ceviche Tostada on the lunch menu and locked in on the Carnitas version, I was done. Smoky pork drizzled with orange marmalade, tossed with habañero-onion, avocado and cilantro, and piled high atop a crisp tostada – Ohh Maaah God – again! Superstar chef Chad White is at the helm of Común Kitchen & Tavern, and he’s doing a remarkable job of paying homage to the cuisine and culture of Baja, Mexico. The interior walls of Común are awash in surreal urban art and mural designs created by artist Gloria Muriel. My friendly waiter Josue informed me that their menu is ever-changing according to the availability of ingredients. I can’t wait to sample more of the boundless creations Chef White undoubtedly has up his culinary sleeve.
5. Ma Cherie Boutique. Where in heaven’s sake could a girl stop in at a kitschy boutique, purchase a fashionable new outfit for her stylish wardrobe, add in some one-of-a-kind bling to accompany said new outfit, treat herself to a facial and skin care treatment all in one spot … and still have moola in her wallet?? Right here, thank you! Literally across the street from Común Kitchen & Tavern is a swank little boutique filled with the latest in trendsetting fashions, accessories and skin care at remarkably affordable prices.
Yet the star of Ma Cherie Boutique is their selection of Vixen Jewelry, fantastic one-of-a-kind handcrafted accessories created by store owner Jeanne Michelle. Jeanne confided that jewelry design is an enduring passion of hers; she has been creating exclusive pieces for over 25 years now. Oh, how I wish my collection of baubles resembled this! Congratulations to Jeanne; several pieces from her Vixen jewelry line were selected for last year’s Oscars Gifting Room.
These are just five of innumerable reasons to spend time in San Diego’s thriving East Village. (I could probably compile a post in itself on Cowboy Star Restaurant & Butcher Shop. Having dined here on numerous occasions, no one could convince me that there is a better steak in San Diego.) Yet, of all the obvious reasons I love spending time in East Village, my absolute favorite is that as I stroll along the streets, stop in for a bite to eat or adult beverage, catch a Padres game, browse the boutiques, or linger in the new library digs, every single person I encounter is extremely friendly, thoughtful and genuine. You just can’t help but be happy here!